Jeremy Corbyn has promised to implement the Chakrabarti report on antisemitism in full, but its recommendation for a two-year ‘statute of limitations’ on disciplinary proceedings could result in the dismissal of cases including those against Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker.
In his reply to the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council on Monday, Jeremy Corbyn promised “the overdue full implementation of the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report”. It has since emerged that the measures have been awaiting approval from the leader’s office.
But implementing the Chakrabarti report’s recommendations in full could result in the dismissal of number of anitsemitism cases against members that have been suspended, including high profile cases against Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Mark Wadsworth.
That is because the Chakrabarti report recommends “a statute of limitations on the bringing of formal disciplinary proceedings” and that this “be a period of no more than two years”.
Alt-left blog Skwawkbox has written of its support for the measure, describing “a limitation period of two years for a complaint to be made” and suggesting that this would mean “no more dredging up of years-old issues to use against members”.
The adoption of the two year rule could result in the dismissal of some of the most symbolic cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Ken Livingstone was first suspended from the Labour Party on 28th April 2016 after referring to “a well orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticised Israeli policy as antisemitic”. Under the ‘two year rule’, Livingstone’s case could be due to be dismissed in just a month’s time.
Labour Against the Witch Hunt founder Jackie Walker was suspended by the Labour Party as a result of her 27th February 2016 post to Facebook that alleged that “Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the slave trade”. Her case is based on comments that are already more than two years old, suggesting that it could be dismissed if Chakrabarti’s recommendations are implemented in full.
Marc Wadsworth who once claimed to run an organisation called Momentum Black Connexions and has now founded Grassroots Black Left says that he was suspended on 30th June 2016, the same day that Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth reported him for accusing her of “colluding” with the right-wing media at the launch of the Chakrabarti report. His case too will soon be two years old.
The two-year ‘statute of limitations’ is not the only controversial unimplemented measure in the Chakrabarti report, with recommendations for “a moratorium on triggering new formal investigations on comments and conduct arising prior to [the publication of the] report” and “appropriate time limits governing each stage of the disciplinary process” opening further opportunities for cases to be dismissed.
In light of this news, organisations pushing for tougher action on antisemitism in the Labour Party are likely to call for reassurances that any rule changes will not result in the dismissal of cases against figures such as Ken Livingstone on technical grounds or as a result of the Labour Party’s own delays in holding disciplinary hearings.